Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling talks PEDs, CHBs and SPFs

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Curt Schilling tackled a couple of hot topics on WEEI radio Friday: the David Ortiz-Dan Shaughnessy PED controversy and the Clay Buchholz ball-sliming scandal.

On the David Ortiz matter, Schilling backs his former teammate and knocks Shaughnessy for once again trying to insert himself into the news. “Because it’s as important for him to be a part of the story as it is to write the story,” Schilling said. “And players have a problem with that.”

He also talks about steroids in general and again states how he never knew how big of a problem it was a problem in his prime years. He believes the testing program now is much better than ever before, and he can’t resist taking a dig at another former teammate:

I do believe that including bloodwork was a game-changer. Here’s what I would say now: Now if you get caught, you’re either Manny Ramirez dumb or you’re going to such extremes to try and cheat and beat a blood test that you deserve whatever they throw at you. It’s obviously not going to stop everybody. But when the players’ association, rightfully so, agreed to include blood testing, that was a game-changer for me. It was something that I never ever thought the Players Association would approve or be OK with. But God bless them, they did.

On the subject of Buchholz and foreign substances, Schilling admitted that he used BullFrog sunscreen, too:

Here’s the thing: I did it. And I did it for the same reasons Clay did it. I would tell you there is no ballpark harder to grip a baseball in than the SkyDome [Rogers Centre]. It is the hardest and the driest environment — for me it was — in the big leagues. I had no saliva, I had cotton mouth in that stadium all the time. You needed something, and it was to keep a grip. You can’t cheat by getting an extra grip on the ball. That’s not how you cheat. You cheat by getting the ball moist and wet. If that was what Clay was trying to do, he would have been doing the opposite of what he actually did. You want the ball to be slick. You want it to be almost like — not spit, but water. He was actually using that stuff to keep a grip.

Jerry Spar has a lengthier transcript with more Schilling quotes over at WEEI.com, along with a link to the interview audio.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.